identity and violence

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It is often claimed that it is impossible to have, in the foreseeable future, a democratic global state. This is indeed so, and yet if democracy is seen in terms of public reasoning, we need not put the possibility of global democracy in indefinite cold storage. It is not an “all or nothing” choice. Many institutions can be invoked in this exercise of global identity, including the United Nations, but there is also the possibility of committed work, which has already begun, by citizens’ organisations, many non-government institutions, and independent parts of the news media.

There is an important role for the global justice movement. Washington and London may be irritated by the widely dispersed criticism of their strategy in Iraq, just as Chicago or Paris or Tokyo may be appalled by so-called anti-globalisation protests. The protesters are not invariably correct, but many of them do ask relevant questions. There is a compelling need in the contemporary world to ask questions not only about the economics and politics of globalisation, but also about the values, ethics and sense of belonging that shape our conception of the global world. But global identity can begin to receive its due without eliminating our other loyalties.

more from Sen’s book at The New Statesman here.

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